I always find it intriguing when the world criticizes the church for its mission failure. I recently finished a (rather) large book on global missions, Introducing Christian Mission Today, where I came across a quote from Australian sociologist, John Carroll. Carroll is not a Christian. He says there is a simple reason why the church is in decline in western culture, including the United States:
The waning of Christianity as it is practiced in the west is easy to explain. The Christian churches have comprehensively failed in their one central task – to retell their foundational story in a way that might speak to the times.
A non-Christian being a prophet to God’s people! We are failing because we are not communicating the core story of the Gospel in a way that is contextualized, relevant, and convicting to the present culture.
As I lead Living Word into the next season of the life and ministry God has for us, we MUST and we WILL tell the story of Christ in a way that is compelling and captivating, as well as challenging and convicting.
The good news of the Scripture cannot be accommodated to the culture. When we accommodate, we surrender the transforming (and irritating) truth of God to the cultural forces that want us to water down the Gospel and to, instead, agree with contemporary cultural trends. To do that will mean catastrophic mission failure.
Jesus did not water down his message.
Serve God or serve money.
Two roads: a narrow one and a wide one. Take the narrow road.
Sell all you have, give to the poor, follow me (to a specific ruler).
Do not worry.
Let go of your life so you can find real life.
I am THE way, truth, and life … the only access to God the Father.
Take up your cross and follow me.
So many more challenging words can be added. Some disciples walked away from the strong message of Jesus (John 6:25-70). The Apostle Paul said the Gospel is foolish to the Greeks and it is weakness for the Jews who wanted to see power.
Jesus did not change his message so those who walked away would change their mind. Instead, he looked at his closest disciples and asked: “You do not want to leave too, do you?” To which Simon Peter, his lead disciple said: “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:66-69).
We cannot and will not let Christianity wane on our watch by failing to tell the story of God’s mercy revealed in Christ.
The old, old story needs to be told in fresh ways.